Saturday, 10 July 2010

... Mexico: Don't Go Into The Water?

Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr dun......

Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr dun......

dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun....

Yes... That. Is. A. SHARK!

You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
And I was planning to get into the water with one....

.... or two....

Actually, make that +40 of them!

Today I went into the water. I'm not talkin' about pleasure boatin' or day sailin'. I'm talkin' about workin' for a livin'. I'm talkin' about sharkin'.

Today I went swimming with the largest living fish species, the Rhincodon typus a.k.a the Whale Shark. This distinctively-marked slow-moving filter feeding shark inhabits all tropical and warm-temperate seas and it was a pre-crack of dawn start for me to head back up to Cancún to take a boat out to a site where they were known to frequent.

The boat ride itself was fantastic. I saw lots of dolphins and the occasional turtle all whilst topping up my tan. When the Captain killed the motor I knew this was about to become an experience of a lifetime. And there they were. We were literally surrounded by dorsal fins.

One came right up to our boat but we were not plankton and so he gently swam away. I was awe-struck. This was a dream come true especially as I had just missed this opportunity two years ago in Utila, another place where they are known to visit at certain times during the year.

Whale sharks conservation status is listed as vulnerable. I had deliberately picked a company whose main goal was conservation & ecological study. In fact we were all asked that when we went into the water in our groups of 2 to keep an eye out for any sharks with special tags along with any signs of any damage which would have most likely come from propeller injury from boats who saw dollar signs as opposed to what these creatures should really represent. The reason we were going into the water in groups of 2 was so as to not overwhelm these gentle giants but we were assured that we would get several turns to go into the water if we did so wish. It was time to get into the water.

I couldn't quite believe I was snorkeling towards this but I was! Of course you had to remind yourself of the huge tail fin still to come from behind you.

I was able to get so incredibly close to this beauty. It was absolutely amazing. It soon got bored and swam away after almost knocking me half a mile with its tail. I turned around and saw a giant dorsal fin coming right towards me...

There was one particular theme tune playing in my head and no it wasn't "It's a small world after all"... I screamed like a little girl.

"Large mouths but eat plankton. Large mouths but eat plankton," I silently chanted as it gently swam past me probably more annoyed that I was in its way than thinking "ooooh food".

Another close up. This one moved surprisingly fast and had a couple of remora tagging along for the ride! These fish are so incredibly graceful, so beautiful with their checkerboard markings and so bloody huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge! The smallest one I saw was 20 ft long!?!

What more can I say? This is an experience that I simply cannot do justice with words & pictures! It was quite simply out of this World and the cherry that topped this trip's icing. I returned to Playa for a final night filled with dancing on cloud 999!

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